Filled with peaks, waterfalls, and hiking trails, there's outdoor fun for everyone.

By Southern Living
March 08, 2021

To visit a landscape of unbelievable natural beauty, set your sights on Pisgah National Forest, Western North Carolina's 500,000-acre wonderland of waterfalls, rivers, and hundreds of miles of scenic trails. It's a destination for outdoor adventure all year round and offers up acre after acre of unforgettable views. Located a short drive west of Asheville, Hendersonville, and Brevard, the park is easy to access and breathtaking to experience. 

The USDA Forest Service describes the forest as "a land of mile-high peaks, cascading waterfalls, and heavily forested slopes." It has a long and interesting history, as it's part of a piece of land acquired under the Weeks Act of 1911, which led to the establishment of many more national forests in the U.S. "It is also home of the first school of forestry in the United States, now preserved at the Cradle of Forestry in America historic site, and boasts two of the first designated wilderness areas in the east," according to the Forest Service. It's also home to some of the tallest summits east of the Mississippi River.

Looking Glass Falls
Credit: Education Images/Getty Images

Today, Pisgah National Forest is a destination for outdoor recreation, including cycling, climbing, caving, fishing, horseback riding, hiking and camping. There's adventure aplenty, but even just a short drive through the forest reveals stunning overlooks, verdant hardwood forests, and meandering waterways. Parts of the Blue Ridge Parkway wind through stretches of the forest, and open up to dramatic overlooks, so keep a camera handy.

Another popular drive is the Forest Heritage Scenic Byway (US Highway 276), which connects visitors to several popular attractions including Looking Glass Falls, Moore Cove Falls, and Sliding Rock, a natural water slide that's a can't-miss summertime marvel. 

North Carolina's mountains are calling—won't you go? For more information and to plan your next visit, check out

What are your favorite outdoor adventure areas in the South? Are you planning a hiking trip anytime soon?